It's going to be a while before airline passengers can use iPads and other electronic devices during the whole flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that it is starting a process to study the issue, with a timeline that means it will take at least until March 2013 for a recommendation — and maybe longer for action.

In March the FAA raised hopes that it might loosen rules for electronic devices by saying it would "explore ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved."

Smartphones and tablet computers are common in the passenger cabin, and pilots are using iPads in the cockpit. But passengers have to shut off electronic devices when the plane is below 10,000 feet because of worries that signals emitted by the devices might interfere with electronics in the cockpit.

The FAA doesn't actually ban the devices. But it says airlines can only allow devices that have been tested and proven not to interfere with the plane's electronics. With thousands of devices on the market and new ones coming out each day, airlines simply ban them all during takeoff and landing.

The FAA will form a committee this fall to study the issue for six months and then make recommendations. The FAA often uses such Aviation Rulemaking Committees when it is considering changes, and their deliberations often last months, sometimes years.

This group will include people from mobile technology companies, airplane makers, pilots and flight attendants, airlines, and passenger associations. The FAA will also ask for public input.

In a written statement, acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency wants "information to help airlines "decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today's aircraft."

The FAA said allowing cellphone use during flights isn't under consideration.

FAA spokeswoman Brie Sachse said the members of the new committee have not yet been chosen. She declined to say why the process is taking so long.

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  • Guns (821 Of Them!)

    Let's start with guns, because there're just so damn many of them. The TSA reports that it's confiscated 821 firearms in 2012 to date (691 of which were loaded). Some were stowed away in creative places, like in <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-portland-passenger.html" target="_hplink">a potted plant</a> or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/gun-parts-found-hidden-in-stuffed-animals_n_1502545.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">inside stuffed animals</a>. Poor Mickey Mouse!

  • Batman Throwing Stars

    Everyone knows that the Batman has his own plane and doesn't need to fly commercial. This faker, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">caught in San Diego in June</a>, is not Bruce Wayne.

  • Breast Pumps

    The crazy thing about this story wasn't what was stopped from going on a plane, but why. A mother of a 9-month-old was told she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/amy-strand-breast-milk_n_1317058.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">couldn't board her plane</a> in Hawaii in February with her breast pump. The reason? Because the milk bottles were empty, <a href="http://www.kitv.com/KITV4-Exclusive-TSA-Admits-Breast-Pump-Mistake/-/8906042/9658158/-/qpck62/-/index.html#ixzz1nz9Acm95" target="_hplink">KITV reported</a>. The woman embarrassingly had to go to the bathroom to fill the bottles with milk, and the TSA later had to issue an apology.

  • Knife Mounted On Walker

    Don't mess with this grandpa, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/05/tsa-week-in-review-plastic-dagger-found.html" target="_hplink">who tried flying out of JFK</a>.

  • Grenade Launcher

    Fortunately this weapon had no grenades in it <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-fantasy-knives-and.html" target="_hplink">when confiscated in February in Seattle</a>.

  • REAL Grenades

    In Texas, they don't mess around with fake grenades. Officials at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport found <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/tsa-week-in-review-thousands-of-ecstasy.html" target="_hplink">a live 40mm explosive grenade in one man's luggage</a>. The guy actually had a good excuse. "It was a soldier who made a mistake and in the end, no charges were filed," the TSA explained.

  • Gassed-Up Chainsaw

    The curious part of this story is that you <em>can</em> fly with a chainsaw, if it's in your checked luggage. But this guy traveling out of Elmira, NY, still had gas in his wood-cutter <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">when he attempted to get it onto a plane</a> in January.

  • Spear Gun

    This was confiscated at North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

  • Cellphone Stun Gun

    The TSA finds plenty of stun guns, but this one, masked as a cellphone and uncovered by officials in Indianapolis in June, takes the cake. Insert your "there's an app for that" joke here.

  • M-80s

    An X-ray screening in Philadelphia International Airport reveals one passenger trying to carry on <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/good-catch-explosives-discovered-in.html" target="_hplink">three M-80 fireworks</a>, along with "a water bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder." Unsurprisingly, the man was arrested.

  • A Cannonball

    Regret that useless souvenir you got on your last vacation? <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-coral-covered.html" target="_hplink">Meet this diver</a> who found an 18th-century, coral-covered cannonball while exploring a ship near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The TSA determined that the projectile was still potentially explosive even after centuries underwater, and had to evacuate the checked baggage area and call in a bomb squad.

  • Novelty Swords

    These stuckers were taken <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">by officiers in Salt Lake City, Utah</a>.

  • Bazooka Round

    What's in the water in Dallas? An old bazooka round was found in a passenger's bag at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. "Not knowing if this was live or inert, Law Enforcement Officers established a 100-foot perimeter around the item and evacuated the baggage area and terminals near the item," <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">the TSA wrote</a>. Five delayed flights later, it was determined to be not live.

  • Inert Detonator

    Obviously, this is scary. <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">In Harrisburg, PA, in June</a>, a passenger "had been at a conference where the items were given out as souvenirs."

  • 11-Inch Machete

    <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">Found in San Diego in January</a>.